The Power of Images in Inbound Marketing

As a marketer, you know that inbound is all about engaging your customer, providing solid value. It’s all about making the potential customer feel only-too-happy to click on a link or visit your web site. If we told you that facebook posts with pictures got 52% more “likes” than those without, I doubt you’d be surprised (except maybe to wonder how the number isn’t higher—for comments it is 105%).

But this post isn’t going to recommend merely including photos or other graphic images in your inbound marketing posts. It instead will discuss the power of those images, and the success marketers can have with efforts that foreground images.

We all sympathize with the human desire to look at something nice. Soldiers in World War II, as traumatized as they were, and even if they hated war as a whole, reported taking some pleasure in the visual appeal of missiles and various explosions. Apartments on higher floors of buildings often have higher rents because of the view. But it’s not just pleasure that people are after. For obvious reasons, people simply process visual information faster. And none of us can stop our eyes from being pulled, as though magnetically, to visual information that may appear alongside text. That is where all the statistics on click-throughs being generated by images come from.

This brings us to the concept of image-based marketing. This means creating pieces of marketing that revolve around—rather than just including—visuals. Examples of image-based posts include tweets of pictures, photos posted on Instagram or Facebook, or photos on a platform like Pinterest that in turn link to your website in which the picture item appears, but with further information. The idea is to initially engage on the strength of the image—your audience has seen enough sales pitches and newsletters.

The particular power of the GIF

A GIF (Graphic Interchange Format) is an animated file in which the subject commits some repetitive action over and over in an infinite loop. The action usually lasts about two seconds. The person who makes the GIF takes a short video and turns it into a GIF. As you can tell, the idea of the GIF is to isolate something that happened in real time and hold it up for special emphasis. Whether it’s the intention or an effect, what happens in a GIF tends to make a very firm impression in a person’s mind.

Jehan Hamedi, Senior Manager of Strategic Market Development at Crimson Hexagon, performed some studies that showed that the majority of GIF sharers were under 18. The study found that sharing these via Twitter was a cardinal social networking move of this demographic. Marketers seeking out the teen demographic should look into the mesmerizing power of the GIF.

Those not necessarily marketing teens may look into the GIF as well, since, as the Obama fist bump GIF, linked above, shows, the subject of a GIF can be just about anything.

Infographics

If you’re concerned about the intellectual content of your marketing and you perceive that too much emphasis on pictures may come off as superficial, an infographic might be for you. The infographic is a field on color on which concepts are diagrammed or explained using pie charts, numbers printed in large fonts, with some photos mixed in. You may outsource the creation of infographics or may have someone on staff to do them. Free software such as Hohli, Stat Planet, and Creately can help you bust out nice infographics.

Inbound marketing can and will take many forms. It will always involve blog posts (with some photo content), social networking posts, and even direct e-mails. But image-based marketing is more than worth your attention as well.

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